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2015 Young Adult Reading: Texas Young Adult literature topical and edgy

sponsored by Half Price Books


The fastest-growing category in trade books in 2014 nationwide was Children’s/Young Adult, in which sales rose 20.9% and units increased 13.5%. Much of the popularity with youth literature—especially YA, or “yalit,” as it’s come to be called—is that the teenager, parent, and even the grandparent can all read and enjoy the same books. According to Bowker the majority of YA books are bought by adults.


YA novels continue to tackle very adult topics and somewhat edgy ones, and Texas authors in the genre don’t shy away from bold plot lines. Here are our picks for summer reads of Texas Young Adult authors and their recent and notable books.



Grade 6 and up

Jennifer Mathieu


Roaring Book Press

337 pages, hardcover, 978-1596439115

June 2, 2015


In Devoted home-schooled protagonist Rachel Walker begins to question her upbringing. Rachel is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can't shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.



Grade 9 and up

Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice

Roaring Brook Press

208 pages, hardcover, 978-1596439092

(June 3, 2014)


The rumor mill has always been a side effect of high school, but thanks to cell phones and social media, a story can now spread at warp speed. The Truth about Alice is what happens when a teen girl is targeted as a slut, courtesy of party gossip. Before things blew up, Alice had been liked well enough by the other girls and attractive to the guys at her small Texas high school, but was uninterested in being part of the "in" crowd. Multiple narrators tell the story of how one unchecked rumor took on a life of its own, and the individual motives of those closest to it. Though certain participants in the rumor mill feel bad and readers get the sense that Alice heals from the horrible events while developing a meaningful relationship, teens are introduced to the potential damage that rumors and lies bring.


Jennifer Mathieu’s YA books do not shy away from potentially controversial topics.

Mathieu is a a former Houston Press writer turned teacher and novelist. She teaches 11th grade English at a north Houston high school.



Grade 9 and Up

Rachel Caine

Morganville, Texas vampire series

The Morganville Vampires is a series of young adult urban fantasy/vampire novels written by Fort Worth author Rachel Caine. The novels feature Claire Danvers, a student at Texas Prairie University, and her housemates in the vampire-controlled city of Morganville, Texas. While the mayor of Morganville is human, unbeknownst to most of the population the town is actually run in cooperation with a group of vampires. Several of these novels have made the New York Times bestseller list.


Rachel Caine is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 45 novels to date and many short stories, including fantasy, urban fantasy, science fiction, young adult fiction, mystery, thriller, and horror. Her notable series include The Morganville Vampires, Weather Warden, Revivalist, Red Letter Days, and the Outcast Season novels. She graduated from Socorro High School in El Paso, Texas, and earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Her first short story was published in 1990 and her first novel in 1991.


After a long career in business (including working as an office manager, payroll manager, insurance investigator, web designer, graphic designer, and corporate communications executive) she began writing full-time in 2009. She and her husband, artist R. Cat Conrad, live and work in Fort Worth, Texas.


Fans of the Morganville, Texas, series launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a web television series. Here’s the complete list of books.

1. Glass Houses (October 2006, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-21994-5)

2. The Dead Girls' Dance (April 2007, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22089-7)

3. Midnight Alley (October 2007, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22238-5)

4. Feast of Fools (June 2008, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22463-9)

5. Lord of Misrule (January 2009, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22572-4)

6. Carpe Corpus (June 2009, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22719-0)

7. Fade Out (November 2009, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22866-9)

8. Kiss of Death (April 27, 2010, Signet Books, ISBN 0-451-22973-8)

9. Ghost Town (October 26, 2010, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-23161-9)

10. Bite Club (May 3, 2011, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-23318-2)

11. Last Breath (November 1, 2011, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-23487-1)

12. Black Dawn (May 1, 2012, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-23671-8)

13. Bitter Blood (November 6, 2012, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-23811-7)

14. Fall of Night (May 7, 2013, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-41425-X)

15. Daylighters (November 5, 2013, NAL Hardcover, ISBN 0-451-41427-6)



Grade 9 and Up

Cynthia Letich Smith

Tantalize Series

Tantalize is a young adult Gothic fantasy novel series by Austin author Cynthia Letich Smith, published by Candlewick Press, for ages 14 and up. Fantasy elements include vampires and shape shifters. The novels are genre-benders, employing elements of mystery, suspense, comedy, romance, and Gothic fantasy.


The series launched with the story of Quincie P. Morris, a teen struggling to help save her family's Italian restaurant by re-launching it with a vampire theme. It's a great idea until some real vampires show up and Quincie’s best friend, Kieren, is suddenly suspected of murder. The series, set in Austin, continues to tell the stories of the assorted characters in Quincie’s life.


1. Tantalize (February 13, 2007, Candlewick Press,  9780763627911)

2. Eternal (February 10, 2009, Candlewick Press, 9780763635732)

3. Blessed (January 25, 2011, Candlewick Press, 9780763643263)

4. Diabolical (January 24, 2012, Candlewick Press, 9780763651183)


New York Times bestselling writer Cynthia Leitich Smith’s blog, Cynsations, is widely considered one of the premier YA blogs; it has been reported to reach more than 60,000 subscribers and to average more 80,000 page views per month.



Grade 9 Up

Mark Falkin

Contract City

Bancroft Press

Hardcover, 280 pages, $22.95, 978-1610881449

March 31, 2015


In Contract City, a YA dystopian novel set in the country's first fully privatized city, Tulsa, Oklahoma, the world Austin author Mark Falkin creates is so vivid that the story blurs the lines between sci-fi and reality. In the very near future of Falkin’s universe, all of Tulsa’s civic services such as police, hospitals, and schools are run by private corporations.


Sara, a teenage documentary filmmaker, begins investigating some graffiti that shows up everywhere — the tag WH2RR??. What starts as an interesting documentary subject to help her break into the film scene becomes a deeper and darker mystery, and soon she is hunted by the private police squad as they try to obtain her footage.


Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mark Falkin graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and then the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He has lived in Austin for the last twenty years, where he is a literary agent and music attorney.



Grade 9 and up

A.G. Howard

Splintered Series, Alice in Wonderland spinoff


This dark fantasy series is a sequel of sorts to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, imagining a modern-day descendant of the young girl who may have inspired Carroll’s flights of fancy.


The central character, Alyssa Gardner, is the fictional great-great-great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, a real-life girl whom Carroll knew well. Alyssa’s the victim of a family curse and hears bugs and plants speak incessantly. It’s the same curse that caused her mother to be institutionalized, and when Alyssa begins to investigate, she finds herself whisked away into a Wonderland that’s more disturbing than Carroll ever depicted.


Flowers don’t just talk; they speak of devouring their visitors. The Walrus isn’t just tusked; he’s a five-hundred-pound beast with tentacles for legs. And the White Rabbit is no bunny at all; he’s a skeletal creature with antlers whose name is actually Rabid White.


1. Splintered (January 2013, Harry N. Abrams, 978-1419704284)

2. Unhinged (January 2014, Harry N. Abrams, 978-1419709715)

3. Ensnared (January 2015, Harry N. Abrams, 978-1419712296)


Amarillo author A.G. Howard began writing the Splintered series while still a middle-school librarian. Now, with six books related to this theme since 2013, including a novella and companion guide, she writes full-time.




2015 Children's Summer Reading Showcase


Downtown Abilene to be transformed into a childhood bookish destination in 4th annual CALF, June 11-13


On June 11-13, 2015, downtown Abilene will be transformed into a childhood adventure featuring the work of David Shannon in the fourth annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival. The event will include a costume contest, a parade during ArtWalk, several performances, and movie showings. Registration is $10 for children and $15 for adults.


This year, the festival celebrates the work of author and illustrator David Shannon (pictured at right; photo from CALF Facebook page).


Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Spokane, WA, Shannon graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, and then moved to New York. His awards include the Caldecott Honor for No, David! and the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year for How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball. David is a passionate baseball fan and softball player. He and his wife live in Los Angeles with Fergus, their eighteen-year-old Westie.



The CALF is sponsored by the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, an affiliate of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce dedicated to promoting the arts in Abilene. This three-day event is packed full of events all over downtown Abilene, including:


Thursday (6-11)

  • 4PM David Shannon Character Costume Contest (Elks Arts Center, 1174 N. First). All winners receive a prize.
  • 5-8 PM Art Walk theme, Shannon’s Shakin’ It. Music, characters, balloon man, and more. All museum exhibits will be free and open during Art Walk.
  • 5:30 PM Storybook Parade. Participate in the parade by wearing your most creative David Shannon costume and carrying your favorite Shannon book.
  • 6:15 PM Unveiling of new Storybook Sculptures  project pieces inspired by David Shannon (NCCIL and T&P Depot).
  • 6:45 PM Artist Talk by Caldecott winner David Shannon (Paramount Theatre). Shannon will share his creative process with an interactive conversation, followed by a book signing. (Please purchase your books at the NCCIL).


Friday (6-12)

Dramatic Reading and art project. Enjoy nine David Shannon books at six reading locations throughout Friday and Saturday  These books are read aloud while books are projected onto a big screen for visual and aural learners. Each dramatic reading includes a costumed character, an art activity, and a chance to earn a button for your lanyard.

  • 9 AM Dramatic Reading & Art project (NCCIL: How I Became a Pirate).
  • 9:45 AM Balloon Sculptor
  • 10:15 AM Dramatic Reading & Art project (Grace Museum: A Bad Case of Stripes)
  • 10:30 AM Book signing
  • 11:00 AM Movie, A Bug’s Life
  • 12:45 AM Dramatic Reading & Art project (CCA: Jangles)
  • 1:00 PM Magical World of Lonnie Chevrie
  • 2:00 PM Dramatic Reading &Art project (Library: Bugs in My Hair and Alice the Fairy)
  • 3:15 PM Dramatic Reading & Art Project (The Well: No, David & Too Many Toys)
  • 4:00 PM Music with Mister Park
  • 5:30 PM Character Autographs & Photos
  • 7:30 PM Meet Frozen characters
  • 8:30 PM Frozen singalong


Saturday (6-13)

  • 9A M Dramatic Reading & Art project (Frontier Texas: Duck on a Bike and Good Boy Fergus)
  • 11 AM Instrument Petting Zoo at the Philharmonic
  • 2:30 PM Character Autographs and photos
  • 4 PM Movie, WALL-E


For more information, call the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, (325) 677-1161.


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Find a Summer Reading Program near you!


Libraries all across the Lone Star State offer prizes, events, and incentives for kids—and parents—to read this summer. Most libraries in Texas have special programs for the summer. We’ve highlighted a few. Feel free to email us at to share your library’s offerings.


Austin Public Library

SRP ’15, the 2015 Summer Reading Program for youth, takes place June through August. How can you participate? Pick up a Reading Log at any APL location, or print one out at home. The front of the log is where you’ll record your reading list. Flip it over and you’ll discover 16 free and fun activities you can enjoy to make sure your summer is action-packed! The library will be excited to hear about your favorite book characters—grab a My Favorite Character sheet and drop it off at the Library to display.

There's something for everyone at the Library this summer from toddlers to teens: magic, robots, scavenger hunts, sewing, story times, theatre, puppets, local music, arts and crafts, and even a glow-in-the-dark dance party.

Download the SRP ’15 Event Flyer here. Don't forget to check out their online event calendar for even more programs at the Library!

SRP ’15 is sponsored in part by Austin Energy, and the City of Austin Music Division. All programs and events are free and open to the public. For more information call 512-974-7400.


Dallas Public Library

The Mayor’s Summer Reading Club, presented by Walmart Sam’s Club, is an eight-week program designed to keep kids’ skills sharp over the summer and encourage a love of reading for all ages.

You and your child/children can sign up for the eight week program at any one of the 29 Dallas Public Library locations, the Dallas Public Library’s Bookmobile or online.

To earn the weekly prize, children through age 18 must read (or be read to) at least 30 minutes each day.


All readers may report any reading material including books, e-books, audio books and magazines. Kids who read at least 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks will qualify for the chance to win a grand prize!

Adults can win prizes, too. Adults modeling good reading habits is a sure way to encourage children to become lifelong readers.

Club members over age 18 will log the books they have read by entering the title and author (or publication) online or at their local branch along with a brief review about what they've read. Two prize drawings for adults will be held during the eight-week program. Adults may select which prizes they would like their entries to go toward.


El Paso Public Library

Programs and reading log entries will begin June 1. Participants will be asked to read either 8 books or for 8 hours depending on their reading levels. Participants will record their reading activity on a log sheet which needs to be turned in to the library by July 11. Those who meet or exceed the reading goal will receive a certificate of completion plus free prizes and incentives while supplies last.

All local residents who register and complete the program will be eligible to win these grand prizes.

Children are eligible to win an iPad mini with Crayola Digitools

Teens can win a laptop computer

Adults can win a Kindle Fire HD.

Register online for free now visiting


Houston Public Library

Summer Reading Program

How to earn books & badges:

REGISTER: Registration continues through Aug. 1, 2015 at any Houston Public Library location during operating hours or remotely from a computer.

READ or listen to books, enter book titles or reading time online and in your Badge Log booklet (be sure to ask your librarian for one). Go to your local Houston Public Library to pick up your prizes at the various book reading levels.

ATTEND hands on workshops, enjoy performances and take part in activities to earn your Steam Machine sticker badges (collect them in your Badge Log booklet)! Participate in at least 5 library programs* and read a minimum of 5 books, to receive a prize pack: Houston Zoo and Houston Rockets ticket vouchers and a Raising Cane’s gift card.**


REWARDS include:

  • A Houston Dash game ticket and a certificate 5 books or 5 hours
  • A Houston Dynamo game ticket and one free book for reading 10 books or 10 hours
  • Chipotle meal coupon, additional free book and a coupon for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus for reading 20 books or 20 hours
  • Children’s Museum of Houston admission voucher and entry into a grand prize drawing to win a new XBox One console for reading 30 books or more, or 30+ hours.


Mesquite Public Library

This year’s Summer Reading Club kicks off with Every Hero Has a Story! Registration begins on Monday, June 8th and continues through Sat., August 1 at both Mesquite Public Library locations. The Mesquite Public Library’s children’s reading program will allow participants to earn prizes and a certificate by submitting reading logs. There will be movies, craft activities, games, and other fun activities throughout the summer. Special programs will include magicians, clowns, science programs, and more.


San Antonio Public Library

Beginning June 1, kids can register for the Mayor’s Reading Club and keep track of the books you read or hear. If you're reading on your own, logging eight books will earn you a Reading Club certificate (signed by the Mayor!) and a free paperback book to keep. If you're a listener, you'll need to log sixteen books to claim the same reward.


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